So Toby Young, brave defender of the freedom of the press fancies himself as a bit of a Voltaire, defending the right of an individual to free speech. So who does the right wing polemist want to defend? Is it a hate-filled islamist firebrand? an anti free-school socialist? even a Guardian journalist? No, strangely enough it’s another right wing polemist Katie Hopkins.
In case Toby Young ever reads this it’s not really how this works. To invoke Voltaire’s spirit you have to pick something that the readers know that you don’t agree with like Owen Jones, not someone who despite your vague suggestion that you don’t agree with it in paragraph 9. Also don’t get wrapped up in hyprocrisy by saying that Robbie Crossan shouldn’t start a petition calling for Ms Hopkins to be removed from programmes and interviews. Why are you privileging Ms Hopkins’ right to free speech above Mr Crossan’s?
Although Voltaire seems not to have said “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” That seems to date back to a mistake by a biographer in 1906. Still it’s a good ideal to aspire to. ↩
No, I haven’t signed said petition, like Toby Young I welcome freedom of speech so Katie Hopkins can say what she likes. Unlike Toby Young, I just don’t restrict that right to my political allies. ↩